Hacking of websites can happen anytime. Even if you think that your website does not have anything that could attract hackers, it remains vulnerable to attacks. Although sites are the target of hackers and other cyber-attacks, the intention is not always to mess with your site layout or steal data. Spammers target websites to use the server connected to the website for relaying email spam. They may even use it for setting up a temporary web server and use it for serving files that have traits of illegality, and sometimes they do it for pure hooliganism or to exploit visitors to the site. 

Once your computer is under attack, it is up to the intruders to use it for their clandestine gains, which can include using your servers to mine Bitcoins or use it as a part of the botnet.  It is also possible that your website becomes a victim of ransomware. Hacking is an organized activity carried out by tech geeks with the help of automated scripts to explore the internet to identify and exploit unknown software security issues. 

If your website becomes unavailable for some time, it can be a sign of denial of service attacks. Sudden changes in the content of the site could be a possible attack by intruders. Adequate website security emanates from all round design efforts across the entire website that includes the areas of the web application, the web server configuration, the client-side code, and policies regarding creating and renewing passwords. 

To keep your website safe and secure, you must stay vigilant to detect the signs of attacks early enough to take action and prevent its escalation. Keeping the software updated is the first line of defense because most attacks find its way through the software, and awareness about the common types of attacks and taking protection against it are steps for improved security. The experts at Big Drop Inc.com, a web design and Development Company, have a piece of advice for website owners and administrators. They must keep testing website security on an ongoing basis by using website security tools to be sure that the security works efficiently at all times.

Here are the steps to take to keep your website safe that enhances the confidence of users and increases the flow of traffic.

Keep software up to date

The security of your website depends largely on whether you keep the software updated, and this includes any CMS or other software that you may be running on your website and the software of the server operating system. Hackers are always on the lookout to detect vulnerability in the software that could be an easy entry point into the system. Even the slightest weakness in software security can cause big damage to the website.

Assuming that you are using a managed hosting solution, the cloud service provider takes care of the server-side software update of the operating system in their own interest.  That is important for the hosting company to maintain the quality of service.

If you are using third-party software on your website, you must be particular about updating security patches by following the notifications for an update. Most vendors keep their clients aware of the security issues by RSS feed detailing or having a mailing list. If you are using WordPress or similar CMSs, you will receive notifications when it is time for an update.  Staying alert about the security vulnerabilities of the software is essential to ensure that any security issues do not escape your attention.

Protect against XSS attacks

Cross-site scripting attacks or XSS is one of the most common forms of website attack. It consists of injecting malicious JavaScript (.js) into the webpages, which then runs in the browsers of any visitor to your website that can either alter page content or steal data and send it back to the browser of the attacker. The attackers target the comments section of sites that allow posting comments on a page without validation. They seize the opportunity and post comments that contain JavaScript and script tags, which could run in the browsers of every other user and steal their login cookie, thereby allowing the attacker to take control of all users who viewed the comment. The only protection against such attacks is to prevent the injection of JavaScript content into the web pages.

Modern web applications where user content is the primary source for building web pages are fraught with the possibilities of such attacks. In many cases, the pages generate HTML that is open to interpretation by front-end frameworks like Ember and Angular. Although these frameworks provide many XSS protections, the possibilities of creating new avenues of attacks also go up due to the mixing of server and client rendering.

Injecting HTML into JavaScript is effective in reducing XSS attacks, and injecting content that is capable of running code by using Ember helpers or by inserting Angular directives also works well in thwarting attacks.

Read More at: Is Your Dedicated Server Protected Against The Attacks?

Check your passwords

We often forget the basics in website protection, as evident from people using weak passwords despite being aware of the need for using complex passwords that are hard to break through. Using strong passwords for your website and the admin area is a must, but it will not work well in the absence of good password practices of your users who must never take it lightly to protect the security of their accounts.

Users may not always like to be reminded of the importance of maintaining strong passwords. But you must enforce password requirements such as having passwords not less than eight characters that include a number, one upper case letter and a special character. It will ensure the protection of user data in the long run.

Protecting passwords is the responsibility of website owners and administrators who must store it as encrypted values by using SHA, a one-way hashing algorithm. This method ensures that you can authenticate passwords by comparing only encrypted values. Using a salt per password is an excellent way to ensure extra website security.

Using hashed passwords can help limit damages in the event of someone hacking in and stealing your passwords because it will not be possible to decrypt the passwords.  The best that attackers can do is a brute force attack or dictionary attack by permutation and combination of the possibilities until finding a match.

Validate on both sides

It is necessary to validate both on the client-side or browser side and server-side. The browser can detect simple errors like when someone enters a text in a number only field and leaving mandatory fields empty. Since it is possible to bypass these, you must make sure to check for the validation. You should also check the deeper validation server side because not doing it could lead to the insertion of scripting code or malicious code injection into the database or could lead to undesirable results on your website.

Read More at: Key Factors to Consider while Securing Data in Cloud

Beware of error messages

The amount of information you give away in the error messages has something to do with website security. To avoid leaking secrets of your server, you should part with minimal information in the error messages. Never provide full exception details as it can pave the way for attacks like SQL injection.

SQL injection

When an attacker uses a URL parameter or web form field to gain access to your database or manipulate it, it amounts to SQL attack. When using standard Transact SQL, there are high chances of unknowingly inserting rogue code into your query that attackers can use to get information, delete data, and change tables. Using parameterized queries, an easy to implement feature present in most web languages is the best way to prevent SQL attacks.

Use HTTPS

HTTPS is a security protocol over the internet. The protocol ensures that users are communicating with the server they intend to and that nobody can neither intercept nor change the content that is visible in transit. The best practice is to deliver anything that your users want in private by using HTTPS to deliver it. Using the HTTPS website comes with SEO benefits too because Google has announced that it will elevate the ranks of the HTTPS website. 

Avoid file uploads

Allowing users to upload files on your website is risky as it can compromise the security of the website. The file, despite looking quite innocuous, may contain a damaging script which, when executed on your server, gives easy access to the site to attackers.  Avoiding file uploads can minimize risk.

 Use web security tools

Having taken all possible measures to keep your website safe and secure, you must not become complacent but test how good your website security is. By using website security tools, you can carry out penetration testing to check your website security. Many free tools like Netsparker, OpenVAS, Sceurityheders.io, and Xenotix XSS Exploit Framework are useful for testing all known exploits of hackers and test the website security by simulating attack scenarios.

By using the results of the automated tests, you can plug the gaps and make the website more secure.